What Is Cupping Therapy?

What is cupping? It is an alternative therapy that involves placing suction cups on the body to facilitate energy flow and healing. The therapy is common where celebrities have been seen with red marks on their backs. Cupping is an ancient treatment therapy that was practiced in ancient Egypt, Chinese medicine, Tibetan, and traditional Korean. Cupping is nowadays offered in facilities that specialize in providing Chinese treatment procedures. Placing suction cups on the body creates pressure associated with promoting cell repair, improved blood flow, and easing tension in the affected areas. It also encourages the creation of blood vessels and creation of connective tissues.

Is cupping clinically proven?

Cupping comes with several benefits. It leads to improved blood circulation to the skin, which comes with several benefits. Research shows that cupping can improve blood circulation and enhance immunity. Other benefits that people enjoy out of cupping include:

Promotion of the skin's blood flow

Cupping involves placing cups near the skin. It is highly effective in the promotion of blood flow to the skin. The skin requires enough blood to access essential nutrients and start rejuvenating. Several skin complications can be managed through the process of cupping.

Changing biomechanical properties of the skin

The placement of suction cups leads to the creation of new connective tissue and blood vessels. The process leads to changes in the biomechanical property of the skin. The procedure's application makes it possible to enhance the skin's appearance. People who apply the treatment experience healthy skin.

Increasing pain thresholds

The skin will not be affected by extreme pain if an individual develops a habit of undergoing cupping. The pressure leads to a response where the skin will be less prone to inflammation. People who suffer from health conditions associated with a lot of pain can turn to the treatment procedure to achieve the best results in their skin treatment procedures.

Improving local anaerobic

The process leads to an improvement in the local anaerobic without involving oxygen. It leads to improved metabolism that can contribute to good health. Those who apply the treatment procedure can count on the process to start enjoying good health. It is an effective way to start enjoying good health in general.

Reducing inflammation

Excessive inflammation can lead to health complications such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, asthma, blindness, cancer, autism, diabetes, and mental illness. The application of cupping can be an effective way to reduce inflammation. The process stimulates the body to respond naturally and reduces the rate of inflammation. Those who apply the treatment procedure are less likely to suffer health complications. It is a great way to improve health in general.

Boosting cellular immunity

Strong immunity is required to deal with a wide range of health complications. Those who apply cupping are likely to avoid the issues related to weak immunity. The body will be prepared to act responsibly when fighting infections. Experts at the chinse treatment centers offer therapy to people who experience weak immunity. The process is highly effective in making people stay healthy.

Research shows that the application of cupping is helpful in the activation of the Heme oxygenase-1 gene. The gene is essential in the fight against excessive inflammation. There is a need to keep inflammation under control, and the therapy has been proven to be very helpful in making people stay healthy. Studies show that cupping can alter the pain processing signal. It is also an effective way to improve immunity. Those who apply cupping are in the best position to enjoy good health. The process plays a great role in improving health in general.

Cupping can remove toxins by stimulating the immune response. Stimulating the immune response ensures the toxins will move out of the body. The treatment procedure has been applied together with a Lymphatic drainage massage to remove toxins from the body.

Common types of cupping

There are several types of cupping. Therapists choose the methods after considering the condition they would like to treat.

Dry cupping

It is a method that involves placing suction cups only on the body. It pulls blood towards the skin and encourages circulation.

Wet/bleeding cupping

The process involves placing suction cups on the skin and controlling medicinal bleeding. The skin is prickled slightly to release blood. Experts argue that the process of releasing blood leads to the healing effects associated with cupping.

Running cupping

The process involves moving the suction cups to different body parts and applying massage oil. It has more benefits because the massage oils used tend to add health benefits. The method is applied by experts who know the right parts to target as they apply the cups to the body.

Flash cupping

It is a quick and repeated application of suction to bring about the effects of cupping. The method involves applying the cups to different parts of the body. Highly experienced experts perform it.

What are substances used alongside cupping?

The cupping process can involve using other treatment methods to make the process more effective. Users can resort to the application of substances such as:

Acupuncture needles

The needles can be applied in the case of wet cupping to prick the skin and release blood. Therapists argue that needles are necessary to release the toxin.

Burning of mugwort leaves

The leaves are applied to bring about the stimulation. It makes the stimulation more effective.


Some experts will combine cupping with magnets. They believe the magnets will stimulate the affected body part more.

Laser therapy

The therapy can be applied alongside cupping to bring about its several benefits.

Electrical stimulation

The application of low voltage electricity is another approach that experts can apply. It leads to a high level of stimulation and several health benefits.


Water application is another way to bring about the effects of cupping. Water is applied in wet cupping procedures.


The application of traditional herbs that come with several health benefits is another method that people rely on. It is effective in making the procedure more effective.

There are several subsets of cupping. Therapists can choose facial cupping, sports cupping, orthopedic cupping and aquatic cupping. The different subsets come with their benefits. The experts can explain more before application. A practitioner will examine your needs before deciding on the best approach.

Cupping therapy used to alleviate pain and other ailments

Some acupuncture treatments for alleviating health problems include cupping therapy. It is advisable for patients undergoing the treatment to fast or reduce their food intake prior to the cupping session, to get optimal results from the therapy. The typical procedure during a cupping session is described below:

- During the first visit, the practitioner will usually ask the patient for his detailed health records, and symptoms of illnesses which he wishes to treat using cupping therapy

- The practitioner will then place cups on the skin of the patient, who will experience pressure and the sensation of sucking during the suctioning process

- While applying the cups to the skin, the cups being suctioned may also be heated

- The cups are often applied for a few minutes on the skin before they are removed, depending on the suctioning method used

- In some cases, the skin may get slightly bruised or become red after the cupping session

There are different kinds of cupping therapies like facial cupping, bleeding/wet , dry, running, so patients should ask the practitioner to confirm the cupping method they intend to use.

Cup placement

The practitioner will usually place the cups on the back, abdomen, chest,buttocks and legs. Usually cups are placed on the back. However,cups are placed on the face for cosmetic or facial cupping

Understanding suctioning using cups

Typically paper, herbs or alcohol are placed in the cup and it is heated with fire. The fire heating is stopped and the open side of the hot cup is directly placed on the patients skin. As a result, the air inside the cup cools producing a vacuum which pulls the muscle and skin inside the cup. The changes in pressure affect the blood vessels and the skin may become red. Some of the modern practitioners of cupping have switched to rubber pumps for suctioning instead of using conventional heating.

Session duration

For dry cupping, the cup remains on the skin for a fixed time period, typically 5-10 minutes

The practitioner will make a small cut the skin so that stagnant blood is extracted using suctioning in bleeding or wet suctioning

Oil is applied on the skin before suctioning for running cupping. Cups are then slowly moved on this area of the skin, massaging it. This can continue for time periods varying from ten minutes to more than an hour, depending on the service terms

In case of flash cupping, the cups are suctioned and released repeatedly, typically for the same area of the body. The duration of this process is between 5 to 10 minutes

The cupping marks or other discoloration caused will usually fade seven days after the session is over.

Ailments treated using cupping

Though cupping is extremely effective in treating muscle pain and aches, it is also effective for other health conditions. The cups can be applied to most important points for acupressure, so cupping can be used for treating skin, digestive and other health problems treated using acupressure. Some of the common health conditions treated using cupping are acne, shingles, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, cough, dyspnea, diabetes and asthma. Cupping is also very effective for treating neck, shoulder,lower back, knee pain, headaches, migraines, lumbar disc herniation, brachialgia, cervical spondylosis and carpal tunnel syndrome. Additional research is required for assessing the actual effectiveness of cupping for these ailments.

Side effects

Though there are no major side effects, some patients may experience dizziness or feel light headed during and after the treatment. In very few cases, patients may sweat profusely or feel nauseous. Additionally the skin where the cups are placed may look discolored or have round shaped marks or get irritated. The area treated using cupping may become painful. The skin may become bruised or scarred. Patients experiencing any problem should contact their cupping practitioner who may offer advice to prevent discomfort or remedies for the pain or bruises.

Patients should thoroughly research the practitioners before selecting to get the best treatment and prevent problems. It is recommended that the patient chooses a practitioner who is certified by the National certification commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine(NCCAOM)

Patients undergoing bleeding/wet cupping and other cupping therapy should be aware that there is some risk of infection. The practitioner can reduce the infection risk by using the right method for preventing infection, keeping the skin clean before, during and after the cupping session.

When cupping should be avoided

Cupping therapy is not recommended for everyone and should not be used for patients taking medication for thinning blood. Patients who have experienced some trauma recently, have any problem with an internal organ should avoid cupping therapy. This therapy should not be used for patients with a wound, skin ulcer, sunburn or thinning skin. Cupping should not be done on the eyes, body orifices, lymph nodes, veins, arteries, varicose veins, nerves, skin lesions or inflammed skin.

Though most healthcare professionals are not trained in and do not understand alternative and complementary medicine, it is advisable to inform your doctor before you use cupping for treatment. Cupping usually with complement regular medical treatments, and patients should continue visiting their doctor.

Preparing for a cupping session

Cupping therapy is used for treating both chronic as well as temporary health conditions. Some of the factors which the patient should consider before starting cupping therapy are:

- which health conditions the practitioner treats using cupping and if the patient is suffering from one of the ailments which the practioner specializes in

- which cupping therapy method the practitioner intends to use for the patient

- whether safety precautions are taken and if the facility is clean

- whether the practitioner has any relevant certification


Cupping therapy has been used since ancient times for treating multiple ailments. Silicone, glass or plastic cups can be used for suctioning during this therapy. Suctioning can help to reduce pain, improve blood circulation and immunity. Increasingly research indicates that cupping is very effective as a complementary therapy for treating a large variety of ailments. However, more research is required to confirm the exact health benefits of cupping.

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